Use the links below to learn how to write an annotated bibliography.
What goes into the content of the annotations?
Below are some of the most common forms of annotated bibliographies. Click on the links to see examples of each.
This form of annotation defines the scope of the source, lists the significant topics included, and tells what the source is about.
This type is different from the informative entry in that the informative entry gives actual information about its source.
In the indicative entry there is no attempt to give actual data such as hypotheses, proofs, etc. Generally, only topics or chapter titles are included.
Indicative (descriptive--tell us what is included in the source)
Griffin, C. Williams, ed. (1982). Teaching writing in all disciplines. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Ten essays on writing-across-the-curriculum programs, teaching writing in disciplines other than English, and teaching techniques for using writing as learning. Essays include Toby Fulwiler, "Writing: An Act of Cognition"; Barbara King, "Using Writing in the Mathematics Class: Theory and Pratice"; Dean Drenk, "Teaching Finance Through Writing"; Elaine P. Maimon, "Writing Across the Curriculum: Past, Present, and Future."
(Bizzell and Herzberg, 1991, p. 47)
Simply put, this form of annotation is a summary of the source.
To write it, begin by writing the thesis; then develop it with the argument or hypothesis, list the proofs, and state the conclusion.
Informative (summary--tell us what the main findings or arguments are in the source)
Voeltz, L.M. (1980). Children's attitudes toward handicapped peers. American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 84, 455-464. As services for severely handicapped children become increasingly available within neighborhood public schools, children's attitudes toward handicapped peers in integrated settings warrant attention. Factor analysis of attitude survey responses of 2,392 children revealed four factors underlying attitudes toward handicapped peers: social-contact willingness, deviance consequation, and two actual contact dimensions. Upper elementary-age children, girls, and children in schools with most contact with severely handicapped peers expressed the most accepting attitudes. Results of this study suggest the modifiability of children's attitudes and the need to develop interventions to facilitate social acceptance of individual differences in integrated school settings.
(Sternlicht and Windholz, 1984, p. 79)
In this form of annotation you need to assess the source's strengths and weaknesses.
You get to say why the source is interesting or helpful to you, or why it is not. In doing this you should list what kind of and how much information is given; in short, evaluate the source's usefulness.
Evaluative (tell us what you think of the source)
Gurko, Leo. (1968). Ernest Hemingway and the pursuit of heroism. New York: Crowell. This book is part of a series called "Twentieth Century American Writers": a brief introduction to the man and his work. After fifty pages of straight biography, Gurko discussed Hemingway's writing, novel by novel. There's an index and a short bibliography, but no notes. The biographical part is clear and easy to read, but it sounds too much like a summary.
(Spatt, 1991, p. 322)
Hingley, Ronald. (1950). Chekhov: A biographical and critical study. London: George Allen & Unwin. A very good biography. A unique feature of this book is the appendix, which has a chronological listing of all English translations of Chekhov's short stories.
(Spatt, 1991, p. 411)
Most annotated bibliographies are of this type.
They contain one or two sentences summarizing or describing content and one or two sentences providing an evaluation.
Morris, Joyce M. (1959). Reading in the primary school: An investigation into standards of reading and their association with primary school characteristics. London: Newnes, for National Foundation for Educational Research. Report of a large-scale investigation into English children's reading standards, and their relation to conditions such as size of classes, types of organisation and methods of teaching. Based on enquiries in sixty schools in Kent and covering 8,000 children learning to read English as their mother tongue. Notable for thoroughness of research techniques.